New York filmmaker Howard Brookner died of AIDS in 1989 at the age of 34, on the verge of mainstream success. A quarter of a century later, his nephew, Aaron, decides to restore his uncle’s iconic film Burroughs: The Movie, and discovers a treasure trove of his uncle’s footage in William S. Burroughs’ backroom “bunker.” Mixing this rich archive of materials with conversations with Howard’s family, friends, and contemporaries (including Jim Jarmusch and Brad Gooch), Aaron creates an emotional elegy to his beloved uncle, and a memoir of NYC’s vibrant art and gay scene in the late 70s and early 80s.
Director’s Statement: Aaron Brookner
As I watched St. Vincent’s Hospital being torn down for sky-rise condominiums to go up, I remembered visiting my Uncle Howard there in its jam-packed AIDS ward when I was a boy. The New York of today is a different city from the one that my uncle lived in, and I feared that his memory would soon be erased. I set out to preserve Howard’s legacy by finding his first film, which had been out of print since his death. This act of searching set off a wave of other discoveries: his missing film on Robert Wilson, his home movies, his video diaries, the behind-the-scenes making of his debut Hollywood feature, Bloodhounds of Broadway starring Madonna, and an astonishing archive of all the film he shot between 1978 and 1983, which had been stored in the back room of Burroughs’ former home on the Bowery for 30 years.